New York Mets general manager Jared Porter sent explicit, unsolicited texts and images to a female reporter in 2016, culminating with a picture of an erect, naked penis, according to a copy of the text history obtained by ESPN.
The woman, a foreign correspondent who had moved to the United States to cover Major League Baseball, said at one point she ignored more than 60 messages from Porter before he sent the final lewd photo. The text relationship started casually before Porter, then the Chicago Cubs director of professional scouting, began complimenting her appearance, inviting her to meet him in various cities and asking why she was ignoring him. And the texts show she had stopped responding to Porter after he sent a photo of pants featuring a bulge in the groin area.
Porter continued texting her anyway, sending dozens of messages despite the lack of a response. On Aug. 11, 2016, a day after asking her to meet him at a hotel in Los Angeles, Porter sent the woman 17 pictures. The first 15 photos were of the hotel and its restaurants. The 16th was the same as an earlier photo of the bulge in the pants. The 17th was of a bare penis.
Reached by ESPN on Monday evening, Porter acknowledged texting with the woman. He initially said he had not sent any pictures of himself. When told the exchanges show he had sent selfies and other pictures, he said that “the more explicit ones are not of me. Those are like, kinda like joke-stock images.”
After asking whether ESPN was planning to run a story, he asked for more time before later declining further comment.
On Tuesday morning, the Mets fired Porter, according to a tweet from owner Steve Cohen: “In my initial press conference I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it,” Cohen tweeted. “There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”
In December 2017, ESPN obtained the messages after being alerted to their existence by a baseball source. ESPN reached out to the woman, interviewed her and was prepared to report about the allegations but did not do so after the woman concluded her career would be harmed if the story emerged. ESPN has periodically kept in contact with the woman — who since has left journalism — and, in recent days, she decided to speak up only on the condition of anonymity because she fears backlash in her home country.
“My number one motivation is I want to prevent this from happening to someone else,” she told ESPN through an interpreter. “Obviously, he’s in a much greater position of power. I want to prevent that from happening again. The other thing is, I never really got the notion that he was truly sorry.”
“I know in the U.S., there is a women’s empowerment movement. But in [my home country], it’s still far behind,” the woman said. “Women get dragged through the mud if your name is associated with any type of sexual scandal. Women are the ones who get fingers pointed at them. I don’t want to go through the victimization process again. I don’t want other people to blame me.”
Porter, 41, was hired as Mets GM on Dec. 13 to help lead new owner Steve Cohen’s front office. Porter apologized to the woman in 2016 by text after she saw the naked picture and texted that his messages were “extremely inappropriate, very offensive, and getting out of line.”
In a statement to ESPN on Monday night, Mets president Sandy Alderson said the organization would “review the facts” and follow up: “I have spoken directly with Jared Porter regarding events that took place in 2016 of which we were made aware tonight for the first time. Jared has acknowledged to me his serious error in judgment, has taken responsibility for his conduct, has expressed remorse and has previously apologized for his actions. The Mets take these matters seriously, expect professional and ethical behavior from all of our employees, and certainly do not condone the conduct described in your story. We will follow up as we review the facts regarding this serious issue.”
Three other people interviewed by ESPN said they saw or were told of the texts at the time. The messages provide a portrait of an executive on the move, a reporter working with a limited grasp of the English language and American customs, and how seemingly friendly banter ended in a lewd, unsolicited photo.
The woman met Porter in an elevator at Yankee Stadium on June 26, 2016. She said they talked briefly — the only time they ever spoke, she told ESPN — about international baseball prospects and exchanged business cards.
Porter began texting her the afternoon they met and, before the day was over, had asked her three times to get a drink. The woman said she agreed to meet Porter because she thought he was volunteering himself as a source and expected they would discuss baseball. Porter asked in a text if she had a boyfriend; the woman said that at the time, she believed he was simply being friendly, as she did not think someone she barely knew would be so forward. That night, after she said she couldn’t meet with him but would the next day, Porter sent an unsolicited selfie.
“Like?” he asked.
She did not respond.
“If I had a better understanding — not just of the language, but the culture — I definitely would’ve realized sooner what was going on,” the woman told ESPN.
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